Thursday, January 28, 2010

Orange & White Dinosaur Tails

If you haven't seen it, Ed Yang has a nice post (thanks Tim) on some recent results in the area of color palaeontology. Specifically the analysis of melanosomes in dinosaur fossils, which allows some speculation about the color of dinosaurs. The post concludes with the quote:

Mike Benton, a co-author on the new study, says, "In Sinosauropteryx at least, essentially the most primitive dinosaur with feathers, the possession of an orange and white striped tail says 'display' of some kind, but whether for warning or pre-mating contests, we couldn't say."

For more details about phaeomelanin and eumelanin see also this nice primer on color mutations in rats.